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Are the History Books We Read Actually Historically Correct?

Trigger Warning: Mention of abuse and explicit terms for sexual organs.

Do you ever wonder if the history books that we read at school are based on the actually history and not just the propaganda of what the government wants us to remember from the history? Aside from the history books that are sold at bookstores, are the history books at our school the kind of history that we have to learn, not what we have to truly know and realize? Are historically incorrect books meant for setting people’s perspectives towards an event that happened in the past?

Let’s take a look one of the examples of a historic event that ever happened. In 1965, members of the Indonesian National Army (TNI) [most of them were Generals] were captured, tortured and killed on September 30. They were shot in the evening when most people had gone to sleep and their bodies were put into a hole known as the Crocodile’s Hole (well-known for its small size). A lot of speculations had been around right after the tragic event. Some people believed that the event known as G30S/PKI was motored by the Communist Party (PKI), because they tended to transform the Indonesian ideology from Pancasila to Communism. Based on the history books that ever circulated during the New Order, the Party itself was allied with a female organization called Gerwani (Gerakan Wanita Indonesia/Indonesian Women Movement). The books claimed that Gerwani helped the Communist Party to conduct the G30S/PKI and tortured the victims by slitting and even cutting the victims’ genitalia. It was later that the party and the organization were permanently closed by the government.

However, there were history books that didn’t tell the actual events occurred during that time. They didn’t tell that the members of Gerwani did not get involved in the G30S/PKI, or even dancing around the victims’ body without any strings attached. They didn’t tell that the government imprisoned the wrong people from the organization, thinking that they were the suspects, and had to spend their lives alienated deep down at Plantungan Camp in Java, a former rehabilitation site. Even according to an interview, there were members of Gerwani who did not even know that G30S/PKI happened and where the Crocodile’s Hole was. The organization itself had their own agendas, such as empowering women, encouraging women to get higher education and persuading the government into revising the marriage law because it only gave advantages to men and not women. They were victims of the government’s eradication of movements that did not follow the Indonesian constitution, because Gerwani’s ideology was most likely to get close to socialism. It was one of the reasons why Gerwani was assumed to be allied with the Communist Party. Another reason why Gerwani was being connected to the Communist Party was because of its involvement in supporting the party during the 1955 election. Right after the demolition of Gerwani or other socialist and communist organizations, the government released a movie about the G30S/PKI. The movie itself would be aired every single year during Sept. 30 throughout the New Order as a reminder of the sadistic mystery that even until now the actual truth remains hidden. The movie somehow turned into a propaganda which brainwashed the viewers into thinking that the organizations were involved in the tragedy.

People learn history in order to know what exactly happened in the past. They learn it, so they can take lessons from the events and try not to repeat it in the future. But now that we know that history books can depict the untruth, then what do we actually learn – historically and morally?

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